The US presidential elections has kept everyone on the edge of their seats since the Republican and Democratic parties announced their nominees. As the race to Election Day gained momentum, the contest became murkier with both the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton digging into their past and leveling serious allegations.
Both candidates went on to become the most hated presidential hopefuls across all election years. As the race draws to a close, Trump appears to have closed the gap after falling behind earlier and it’s becoming difficult to predict who will clinch this election.
While the campaign trail of the two candidates had its share of moments, we take a look at the highs and the lows.
1. High: “Those damn emails”
Instead of attacking Hillary Clinton and her email scandal, opponent Bernie Sanders chose to sideline them and suspend the issue for once and for all. During a Democratic primary debate, Sanders said people were “sick of hearing about those damn emails.” After this, Clinton was let off with a warning from the FBI, which said she was “careless”.
2. High: Hillary’s Benghazi hearing
For 11 hours, Clinton was grilled by Republican members of a committee that probed the US military intervention in Libya while Clinton was secretary of state. However, Clinton held strong and defended her decision, emerging victorious after the grueling session. The Republicans were unable to dig up anything against her.
3. High: Bernie Sanders concedes
While the race between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton was a close one, Clinton had been leading on all counts. In June, Bernie Sanders conceded by extending his support to Hillary Clinton and urged his supporters to continue the political revolution that began with his campaign. The decision came after Barack Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton.
4. High: Cracking the glass ceiling
In a historic moment, Hillary Clinton became the first woman to be announced as the Democratic party’s presidential nominee at the party’s national convention.
5. High: The presidential debates
In spite of Trump breathing down her neck in nearly all of the presidential debates, Hillary Clinton maintained composure and tackled every blow head on. She drew plaudits for measured responses to most of the questions, which she accomplished without interrupting her opponent. She was confident and ready to take anything on — her shimmy dance is a good example!
6. High: Michelle Obama’s speech
After allegations of sexual assault were levelled against Donald Trump and his 2005 tape — where he is heard bragging about how he could get away with many things — was released, FLOTUS Michelle Obama delivered a powerful speech against Donald Trump. “The belief that you can do anything you want to a woman. It is cruel. It is frightening. And the truth is, it hurts. It hurts,” she said. Her speech not only helped the Clinton campaign, it drove home the message that women would not lie down and take anything that gets thrown at them.
7. Low: The bad immigrants
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was built on hatred and fear-mongering from the very beginning. His stand on Mexicans — that they were criminals and rapists — remained unchanged since the day he announced his candidacy. He proposed a temporary blanket ban on Muslims (which he later retracted) so as to combat ‘radical Islamic terrorism’. He has called for stronger immigrant vetting policies under the assumption that all Muslims are terrorists.
8. Low: ‘Basket of deplorables’
During one of her campaign speeches, Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters a ‘basket of deplorables’ and became the target of their ire. She later apologised for her remark.
9. Low: Hillary Clinton’s pneumonia
Clinton maintained a cloak of secrecy over her health condition until she fainted in full public eye during the 9/11 memorial service. While her campaign members were quick to defend her, it was very evident that Clinton was not in the pink of her health. It was later reported that she had been suffering from pneumonia, something that remained hidden from most of those around her. Trump attacked her on this and said she had no stamina to become the president.
10. Low: Comments on women and disabled
Donald Trump rode high even after he called out a woman breastfeeding her child in public, mocking a disabled journalist, and calling former Miss Universe Alicia Machado “Miss Piggy” because of her weight. These are but a few examples of how he has, throughout the campaign, mocked every marginilised community, referring often to the ‘good old days’ where these marginilised communities — for example, the blacks — could be dealt with by the law.
11. Low: “You can do anything”
While Trump continued his racist rhetoric against immigrants, the biggest blow to his campaign came when an old video of him surfaced where he is heard defending non-consensual sex. He is heard saying in the video that one can grab women “by the p****”. Many Republican leaders, elected and former, denounced him and said they wouldn’t vote for him. He apologised for the comments while describing them as “locker room talk” which also faced a lot of backlash.
12. Low: Accusations of sexual assault
After the tapes of Donald Trump were released, as many as 18 women came forward saying that Trump has assaulted them. Trump denied all these accusations and in turn, threatened to sue the women who were accusing him as soon as the election got over.
13. Low: Presidential debates
Right from the first debate, Donald Trump made sure he interrupted his opponent Hillary Clinton as many times as possible. While the interruptions watered down in the subsequent debates, they morphed into insults. Trump threatened to jail Hillary Clinton if he got elected and called her a ‘nasty woman’. Trump also invited the women who had accused Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill of sexual assault as his guests during the second debate. Even during the debate, Trump chose to attack Hillary for Bill’s conduct.
14. Low: The damn emails, again
As Clinton’s lead over Trump extended into double digits, FBI director James Comey decided to reopen the Hillary Clinton email file just 11 days before the election. This was done after Comey had categorically stated the emails won’t be investigated again.